By Jimmy Allinder
After the results of the NJSIAA state tournament, the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) can lay claim for being where the best bowling teams in the state reside.
East Brunswick High School captured the NJSIAA Group IV title and went on to win the ultimate prize: the Tournament of Champions (TOC). Monroe Township High School came away with the Group III championship.
John Canova, coach of John P. Stevens High School’s co-ed team and blogger for an unofficial website that chronicles GMC bowling, was impressed with the teams’ performances.
“East Brunswick proved it would be a serious contender by bowling well throughout the season, while Monroe caught fire at the midway point,” Canova said. “[East Brunswick] had a mix of senior leadership and quality underclassmen and was able to put forth its best effort when it counted.
“After Monroe got things going, they continued their hot streak in the GMCs and states. The highlight was outscoring Woodbridge [Township High School, another GMC power], in the state final, which was statistically the strongest team in the conference.”
While GMC teams are fiercely competitive within their ranks, they also embrace sportsmanship. When the Monroe boys were eliminated in the TOC, they and the undefeated girls’ conference champions stayed to cheer on their East Brunswick counterparts during their march to the championship.
Bears bowlers who participated in the Baker-style format (along with their season averages) were seniors James Reitano (202) and Ethan Shamin (198), juniors Sam Bortnick (224) and Jack Deruvo (192) and sophomore Daniel Lenk (219). Andrew Mai (182) and Armen Shamim (178) were also important contributors throughout the season.
“This has been the most memorable group of young men I have ever coached, said Doug Spishock, who heads the East Brunswick program. “I knew they had the ability to do great things, and they met every expectation.”
Monroe received a quality effort from their top five bowlers in all three games against Woodbridge: senior Zack Volkmann (682), juniors Tyler Kresan (600) and Zac Waynor (644) and sophomore Ryley McKiernan (625) and Louie Folgore (676).
Teammates Joe Hoehler, Riyaz Mohamed and Devin Maddox — frequent members in the regular lineup — were on hand to lend support.
“Every game the boys rolled, their attitudes and the energy they brought was nothing short of magic,” boys’ and girls’ coach Samantha Grimaldi said. “We had a 132-pin lead against Woodbridge after two games with one game remaining, but the bowlers maintained their poise and finished strong.”
Spishock said the daily grind of facing quality GMC opponents throughout the season helped his team remain focused when the state tournaments began.
“We were always facing strong teams, and that is what made us better,” he said. “So when it came time for the state championships, we were able to respond. It was great but honestly, I wasn’t surprised.”
The All-Conference and All-Division teams were recently announced. Bortnik, Lenk and Folgore were named all-conference, while Bortnik, Lenk, Folgore, McKiernan and Reitano were named All-Red Division.